Faculty Spotlight


Faculty Spotlight

Bassist Douglas Mapp, professor of jazz studies, paints this picture: Imagine a young musician who buys a piece of music for the bass and practices diligently for six months. He or she arrives at their first rehearsal and it suddenly dawns on them that the piano is in the wrong key for their bass. The music was written in solo tuning, which is A major, but with their orchestra tuned bass it sounds like G major. Tuning their strings up a whole step will take time and a few hundred dollars to buy new strings - neither of which the young musician has.


Mapp offers the solution.

In addition to being a highly regarded double/electric bassist in the Greater Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, Mapp is also a problem-solving entrepreneur for bassists facing the age-old dilemma of solo tuning vs. orchestra tuning. Over 20 years ago he created a musical publishing company, Douglas Mapp Music, that offers piano transcriptions for double bass, in orchestral and solo tunings. What began as an idea sparked by an offhand comment from a friend’s husband has become a booming business with over 200 recordings and MIDI files for sale.

Mapp, however, does not identify as a businessman, nor even as an educator. Mapp is a musician first. “In my mind I am a bass player who happens to do these other things. When you are a musician, it is in your being. It is who you are, not just what you do,” Mapp says.

A prolific performer, Mapp is currently principal bassist of the Reading Symphony Orchestra; assistant principal double bass for the Delaware Symphony Orchestra; substitutes with the Philadelphia Ballet, Philly Pops and the Harrisburg Symphony; and is a member of the Philadelphia-based new music ensemble Relâche. He has also performed with entertainers including Earth, Wind and Fire, Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra Jr., Bo Diddley, Joni Mitchell and Elton John, as well as with Broadway shows A Chorus Line, Chicago, Cabaret, West Side Story and more.

As a professor, Mapp enjoys helping students to achieve their potential. “They all want to get to the ‘A’ level, and I help them to find a concrete path for where they want to go,” Mapp says.